Kedarnath at risk again? Satellite images show growing glacial lake; experts deny threat

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Published: June 28, 2019 7:08:55 PM

The increase in water bodies at this height and sub-zero temperature zones is a result of global warming.

Kedarnath Temple was unharmed miraculously in the 2013 mishapKedarnath Temple was unharmed miraculously in the 2013 mishap.

North India is on the brink of monsoon’s arrival and it will soon lash the Gangetic plains and high valleys of the Himalayas Valleys and then retreat. During this phase, the river valleys of the Himalayan region generally floods with water as the whole area receives very high rainfall and sometimes the situations turn disastrous. One similar disaster in 2013 left Kedarnath valley in Uttarakhand in ruins.

The rumor of Chorabari Lake’s revival got a new twist when a few satellite images of big glacial lakes around the glacier were released. This backed the speculations of the NDRF and doctor’s team who claimed the revival of Chorabari Lake. Earlier, in the monsoon months of 2013, the aforementioned lake’s banks were broken and it merged with the river Mandakini swelling its water to unprecedented levels leading to the erosion of its bank. There was heavy rainfall in the area and cloudburst as well which resulted in the mishap known as ‘Himalayan Tsunami’ that caused loss of more than 10,000 lives and leftover 15,000 people injured or stranded.

The satellite images released in a report of India Today, are a sign that the authorities should not ignore the possibility of the second mishap of similar fashion and remain on alert. In the satellite images of June 26, 2019, which were taken by the Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2B satellites, the presence of an increasing number of water bodies can be seen over time. Earlier these bodies were not present due to the sub-zero temperatures. The experts believe that the increase in water bodies at this height and sub-zero temperature zones is a result of global warming and might be dangerous in terms of flash floods.

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Earlier, Financial Express Online in an article mentioned the probability of revival of such a lake. The report suggested that a glacial lake 5 km above Kedarnath valley has formed and is being speculated as a threat and demanded corrective measures by the authorities.

However, according to a PTI report a scientist of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology has said that it is a seasonal lake around 4.5 kilometers above the Kedarnath temple and possesses no threat to the temple-town. The institute had sent a four-member team to the spot for a first-hand assessment of the situation after they got the information said the director Kalachand Sain. The Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Science Technology.

Though, experts believe that such formation of the glacial lake is a considerable threat in that part of Kedar valley and for people in the lower valleys as we cannot predict nature. The best we can do is analyze and be at alert to tackle such mishaps and any reoccurring situations like the Himalayan Tsunami.

Formation of such water bodies came to limelight when there were reports by doctors working in health camps in Kedarnath valley. The team of doctors along with local authority and a team of NDRF went above the Kedarnath valley and claimed to have found a lake above the temple site located 5 kilometers away and called it Chorabari. The claims that they made were of a new lake that is forming in the other part of Chorabari glacier and its size is growing day by day.

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